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The federal government’s offer this week of $196 billion over 10 years to the provinces and territories in additional federal contributions to health-care spending was really only a very modest increase on what was already known to be forthcoming under existing arrangements. It is, as it has been widely described, including by the federal government’s enablers in the NDP, a quantitatively inadequate, profoundly unimaginative and dangerously superficial approach to a mortal threat to our health-care system. All middle-aged Canadians have witnessed, though it has been severely under-publicized in the generally mediocre and parochial media of this country, the descent of Canada from being comparable per capita in prosperity to the United States to a position where often, it barely cracks the top 20 in global rankings. We have been bypassed by countries with small populations and negligible resources, which within living memory were in a chronically underdeveloped or war-ravaged condition, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, and we are under imminent threat of being overtaken by South Korea, Israel and the Czechs. South Korea was a rubble heap when the ceasefire in the Korean War was signed 70 years ago, and Israel was little more than a series of kibbutzim when it was founded in 1947, surrounded by more populous countries with which Israel was technically at war. The Czechs only emerged from more than 50 years under the hobnailed jackboots of the Nazis and the Soviet Union in 1990.
As might confidently be expected, the erosion of Canada’s competitiveness is reflected in its health-care system. When the present universal health-care legislation (Canada Health Act) was adopted under the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1984, because, unlike Canada’s first universal health-care system in Saskatchewan in 1961, there was no minimal user fee and no ability for private medicine to operate legally, health-care resources were rationed and there were fewer incentives for doctors to practice in the country. Canada is now plagued by a severe scarcity of doctors. The result is that an estimated three-million Canadians are on medical waiting lists and, contrary to an endless cataract of official promises to the contrary, a steadily larger number of Canadians are put on medical wait lists every year.
The cost of public health insurance for the average Canadian has increased over 100 per cent since 1997, according to the Fraser Institute. We spend 11 per cent of our GDP on health care, more than 27 other comparable countries. But among advanced OECD countries, we are 31 out of 34 in acute care beds per thousand population, 26 out of 31 in medical doctors and 17 out of 32 in nurses. Last year, dozens of emergency rooms were closed in various parts of the country and there are inexcusable delays in processing applications for admission to the medical profession from foreign doctors and nurses. We have 10 times as many health administrators as Germany although Germany has more than twice the population of Canada. The administrative tail is wagging and starving the animal that provides health care to the country and none of our governments appear to have any answer except to demand more money (which we don’t have and can’t afford). Increases in nurses’ pay in Ontario have been limited to one per cent for several years, with predictable results.
The problem of Canadian health care is compounded by the fact that for many years, in our often desperate ambition to differentiate ourselves from the Americans, Canadians took refuge in the belief that we had comprehensive, affordable health care and revelled in fantastic stories of medical emergencies being denied transit by ambulance in the U.S. when an afflicted party could not produce a credible credit card. (Such stories are a complete fiction.) The United States recognizes the shortcomings of its health-care system, but in its frequent intensive public debates about improving it, practically the first point that is stipulated by all sides in the debate is that Canada is not a country that should be emulated. Our waiting lists are notorious and Americans are familiar with a very large number of formerly Canadian doctors and patients fleeing health care in this country.
We remain one of the most resources-rich countries in the world, but in our political faddishness and naivete, we are captivated by the nonsense that our resources are something to be ashamed of and that must not be exploited. Our forest industries are deemed to be an assault upon climate stability and our mining industries a pollutant, and both are frequently violators of the ever-vocal sensibilities of Indigenous people. Our present federal government has been conducting a total fiscal and public-relations war on our petroleum industry. Nothing could be more obvious than that the Canadian health-care system should emulate practically all others in the world except North Korea’s, and be broadened to encourage private health care so that the public system can provide more prompt and comprehensive service to those who have limited or inadequate means for coping with their health-care challenges. Competent administrators must take a mighty scythe through the bloated ranks of the paper-pushers and their places must be taken by better-paid front-line health-care providers. We are already rationing medical care, we are proceeding under the universally recognized delusion that all Canadians receive equal quality treatment regardless of their means and we have been reduced to the unspeakable indignity of officially proclaiming the virtues of assisted suicide as a final desperate effort to reduce the cost of health care.
It is all of a piece: even as the former international centres of climate alarm stand down and acknowledge that doomsday scenarios are not about to occur, we make war on our energy industry and tyrannize our consumers out of a terminal official addiction to virtue-signalling, gaslighting and moralistic kabuki theatre about Canada’s minuscule carbon footprint. We continue falsely and shamefully to accuse our ancestors of genocidal designs on Indigenous people; and we squander our political energy and distract ourselves with absurd indulgences of the biological nonsense that there are more than two sexes. The entire world, almost all of whose principal leaders are inadequate, is waiting for Canada: the 20th century did not belong to Canada as Wilfrid Laurier predicted, but this century could. The world likes Canada but is justly disappointed in it. And the present, Canadian government is apparently more disappointed with Canadians than we are with it. Unless Canada has lost all ambition, we will have to do better than this, and will confer upon ourselves at the first opportunity the immeasurable benefits of regime change.
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